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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

Pointillism and Financial Wellness: Connecting the Dots and the Power of One

Have you ever looked at a Monet painting up close? Like really close? When you do, you’ll see tiny dots, or points of color. As your eyes narrow in on the brushstrokes, they will look arbitrary. Red next to green next to purple next to blue. They seem disconnected.

It’s only when you step back, about 3 feet that you see the dots connect. An image appears. A brightly colored aura of visual beauty. How can it be that up close the dots seem random, but when you step back, you can see the whole picture? It’s because it’s all connected. The morale: we’re all connected.

Employees are the dots

If we expand the analogy, employees represent the dots, each with their own unique financial life. Some savers, spenders, moms, dads, married, single, even dog parents -- all unique individuals. All with their own attributes and priorities.

At the recent OUTCOMES conference in Denver CO, Ross Marino shared a brilliant comment, “We all react based on our life events and only then do people seek situational financial planning.”

He went on to say, “At the same time, some people are great at planning. They are the minority. However, as advisors, we often do more financial reacting than financial planning. The majority of people will only understand the value in the program when it applies directly to them at that moment in time. When “life happens”, now they are interested in help. So if 10-15% of employees are in the room, it’s a success. You can’t auto-enroll employees into financial education courses. They must be motivated to learn and seek help. For most people, that only happens because of an event in their lives. As advisors, we need to be ready to help them when that opportunity arises.”

I found his comments interesting and accurate because as a marketing firm, we talk a lot of results. For example, if you hosted an education meeting on Roth vs. pre-tax and 10% of the employee population attended, would you consider that event a success? I would because now you know which employees are curious about taxes and investing. It’s a platform to have a deeper conversation. It’s 10% of the points in the painting.

Covering the Canvas

Financial wellness is holistic. It is a dynamic ecosystem of accessible resources that helps each employee, based on their unique life stage, prepare their financial lives. The spectrum could include getting out of debt from student loans to handling credit cards. It could also mean saving for a home or thinking about the convergence between health care and retirement. Its spans the entire financial life of each person.

Thus, when we think about financial wellness, it needs more color. What are the accessible resources that employees have available to self-educate? When you evaluate your financial wellness partners, how are you evaluating their capabilities? What videos, articles or quizzes do they offer? What life events do they cover? What information do they export to show their data analytics?

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know that 20% of the employee population watched a 2-minute video about HSAs? This tells you that this population has an interest in learning about alternative ways to save. With this information, you could host a webinar about triple tax benefits. The employer would probably appreciate it because when employees select the HSA health insurance option, these plans are generally less expensive. This could save the company significant dollars on health insurance premiums.

Can you imagine 20% of employees choosing the HSA option? This could cut the monthly health insurance premiums for that group by half. Let’s do some math. Twenty people in the group with a combined monthly employer paid health insurance premium of $10,000. If that group enrolls in the HSA option, the money cost could go down to $5,000 per month, or a 50% savings! A smaller company just found $60,000 extra dollars per year: that’s real money. Take this a step farther: the next time you’re thinking about fees and you found that employer $60,000, well, I have a feeling they aren’t going to be concerned. Actually, it’s time you – their advisor - got a raise!

This isn’t paint by numbers

Each employee is unique, which is why a financial wellness program needs to be inclusive. Ask your financial wellness provider what courses are accessible on their platform. Then ask about reporting capabilities.

Stepping back

No matter how hard we try, some people are just not going to be interested. Until life happens. That moment when something big changes. All in a situational second, it’s time to learn. This is where access to financial resources is critical.

By leveraging financial wellness providers and scalable technology, you can position your firm as a trusted partner. Then, as that person goes through a life event, they are digitally getting to know your firm and developing a foundation of trust. This makes it easier for your firm to be the natural choice when they need financial planning assistance.

Seeing the whole picture

The relationship between employer and employee has changed. It’s no longer a binary relationship where the employer pays the employee for work. It has evolved.

Employees now look to their employer for a range of assistance from health insurance, gym memberships, free coffee, retirement plans, life insurance, and now moving towards holistic financial planning. As our country’s unemployment rate is at record lows, employers are scrambling for top talent. Their total rewards programs can influence hiring. Smart employers know this and use it to their benefit.

When you step back and see all the data dots connected, it paints a full picture of the company. It speaks to the financial problems that each employee is having and provides access to resources to help solve these headaches. It also shows opportunities for cross selling and your pointillism insights have the ability to inform the employer of trends. This hyper-specific knowledge could assist in reducing health insurance premiums, absenteeism and workers compensation claims. Just by knowing what employees are watching, you could paint a picture of how to solve financial stress and lead employees towards financial freedom. Thus, you are helping more people achieve successful financial outcomes.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

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401(k) Marketing is the modern marketing agency for the retirement plan industry. We are proud to support our clients through custom engagements, content marketing campaigns, sales material innovations, thought-leadership consulting, interactive workshops and speaking events. Our mission is to empower the retirement plan industry with high-quality marketing, ultimately inspiring Americans to become financially prepared for their future.

Retirement Plan Marketing is the solution for retirement plan advisors looking for an ongoing and scalable marketing process to generate awareness, streamline sales opportunities and earn more 401(k) business. This comprehensive, strategy driven marketing program includes digital content and sales material specifically designed to help retirement plan professionals attract the right decision makers.

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